HALIFAX -- Sobeys has launched a new program to support its employees who are working the frontlines to deliver essential services to Maritimers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many businesses have been forced to close due to the pandemic, but grocery stores are considered an essential service, so they remain open.

The company’s Hero Pay Program will benefit employees working in Sobeys stores and distribution centres during this time.

“Our team is playing a vital role in providing Canadians with the food, medicine and essentials they need for their families during this terrible crisis. We are humbled by the efforts our teammates are making each and every day, as they continue to step up and support the needs of our neighbours,” said Michael Medline, the president and CEO of Sobeys, in a statement.

“We want to ensure our teammates are well cared for and that we lead the way for fair treatment.”

According to the company’s new Hero Pay Program:

  • All employees will receive an additional $50 a week, regardless of the number of hours worked.
  • All employees who work more than 20 hours a week will receive an additional $2 premium per hour for all hours over 20 hours, in addition to the $50 payment mentioned above.
  • All of the new arrangements are retroactive to March 8, 2020 and employees will receive their first payments in early April.
  • The program will be reassessed at the end of April.
  • The company is organizing a recruitment drive and is hiring additional part-time employees across its business.
  • Top-up programs are in place for employees who are in self-quarantine for a two-week period or for those taking time off to care for dependants or children.

“Our retail and distribution centre teammates are true local heroes working on the frontlines in their communities to deliver essential services to Canadians,” said Medline in the statement.

“In times like these, enhanced compensation and support programs for those who need to care for themselves and their families are simply the right things to do.”

Medline says the company will support staff members in any way it can and will continue to ensure stores remain safe and healthy.